Billy Morgans Worlds First Quad Cork
In case you hadn't heard, Billy Morgan, has just landed the world’s first 1800 quadruple cork. Yes, quadruple. That's five rotations and four vertical flips. The video has been blowing up all over social media and we cannot get enough of it.
Billy, 26, from Southampton, achieved the incredible feat in Livigno, Italy on the last day of the snowboard season. The rider, who competed for Britain at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, said, “ because I was shaking so much, I don’t think I could have gone back up and done it again”.
“I can’t really remember much about the landing. I may have cried inside my goggles a little bit,” he said.
Morgan, who took bronze in the slopestyle at the 2013 world cup finals in Sierra Nevada, Spain, said he had been thinking about the attempt for six months, and prepared by “lots of repetition on the jump, doing triples and other difficult tricks”.
“In the end you just have to go for it, really. You need to know you have got the air time, feel confident, have friends around you and, yeah, pray that you land on your feet”.
The jump at Livigno’s Mottolino resort took 40 hours to build and shape using specialist machinery.
Morgan said: “You need a ridiculous amount of snow, really, a huge, huge pile of snow with a really steep landing. And a really big jump – or wedge as we call it – to throw you up into the air as much as possible, with control as well. It’s quite hard to build a jump like that, especially late in the season when the snow is quite soft.
“I needed just under three seconds of air time – 2.8 seconds of air time was what was required.”
His instincts told him from the off that he was on course. “I knew I had the time. I knew I was going big enough. But you never know until the last rotation when you can see the floor whether you can actually put it down on your feet,” he said.
“But yes, I had a good feeling, otherwise I would have bailed out. But it felt good. It’s when you leave the lip of the jump you kind of know really whether it’s good to go or not”.
It will be Morgan’s last jump for a while: on Monday the snowboarder undergoes knee surgery and will require six months of recovery. His sights are now set on the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“It is literally the last day on the mountain I have this season to do it. So I am super-happy”.
Snowboarding in the UK
For a country that unfortunately can’t rival the Alps for snowboarding terrain, the UK has produced some world-class talent that has gone on to compete against some of the best in the game. Olympic athletes Dan Wakeham, Aimee Fuller, Ben Kilner and Zoe Gillings have raised the bar, while the old school riders, such as Steve Bailey, Chris Moran and Danny Wheeler, pushed the boundaries in the 90s to enable the current scene.
The here and now is an exciting time for British snowboarding. At only 18 years old, Jamie Nicholls is the UK’s No.1, and he’s currently flying the flag on the world circuit. He’s rubbing shoulders with international pros at prestigious competitions all over the world and achieving remarkable results along the way. Not bad for a British rider who learnt his trade on Halifax’s dry slope. Then there’s Bristol-born Jenny Jones, who won three consecutive gold medals at the Winter X Games between 2009 and 2011 – an achievement that speaks for itself.
And, of course, there is Billy Morgan, who burst on to the scene a few years ago and has progressed at a frightening pace, culminating in his unbelievable quad cork. When we asked him for his thoughts on the future of the UK’s snowboarding scene he said, “I think it will get bigger and bigger. It’s a very exciting sport and one that’s fun to watch. I hope it continues and we can properly step up to the bigger countries.” When a major player like Morgan, who rides for TVSC brand 'Scene Socks', displays such confidence and support, others lower down in the scene should feel inspired and motivated to help build the country’s reputation further still.
Unfortunately, it’s not all rosy. One of the potential stumbling blocks for the progression of snowboarding in the UK is accessibility – or frequent lack of it. Slope passes at the indoor snow centres aren’t cheap, so unless you’re a trustafarian or on a fairly decent income then your chances of being able to afford to ride and practice every week are slim. Then there’s the fact that there are no permanent freestyle parks in any of the UK indoor snow centres (as there are in Belgium and Holland, or the excellently equipped Woodward barns in the US). Our snow domes are also smaller. It’s clear that progression has a couple of hurdles to overcome.
"I think it’s one of the raddest scenes in the world, and believe me, I’ve shredded everywhere from Lebanon to Ecuador"
Yet regardless of these obstacles, riders are still willing to push themselves and do whatever they can to put in a session at their local dry slope or indoor snow centre. And for those that are old enough, many have a real dedication for chasing the snow, by finding the funds somehow and doing back-to-back seasons abroad to hone their skills.
Christian Stevenson – known to many as the host with the most, MCing at almost all the British snowboarding events – came on to the UK scene in 1994, selling boards for TSA at the ski show. Now producing extreme TV shows, among other projects, he’s positively beaming about the passion for snowboarding in this country. “I think it’s one of the raddest scenes in the world, and believe me, I’ve shredded everywhere from Lebanon to Ecuador,” he says.
German pro snowboarder David Benedek once said that the UK has the most positive and laid-back scene he had ever witnessed. That’s a huge credit to the entire snowboarding community, from the grass roots right through to the seasoned pro.
British pioneer Tarquin Robbins spent most of his snowboarding career in the US, but still has plenty of love for the UK scene. “I've just fallen back in love with snowboarding. It’s really refreshing for me to see the enthusiasm of the UK kids, especially considering the lack of mountains here. I think the progression of the indoor snow centres has definitely had a positive influence on the UK scene.”
But Robbins also recognises the need for development at all levels: “I’ve noticed that there is not enough encouragement for kids who are starting to make a name for themselves in the sport. I'm not talking about kids just starting out, but the ones who've already made a start down the sponsorship and contest route. I would love to see more done to help promote, coach and manage these up-and-coming UK riders.”
"I believe there’s a lot to come from British snowboarders, there's so much talent here"
With increasing numbers of like-minded people within the industry pushing in the right direction, surely it’s only a matter of time before we see a growth in more creative and progressive freestyle parks, and more industry companies investing their time and money into encouraging development for future generations. “I believe there’s a lot to come from British snowboarders, there's so much talent here,” says Robbins. “It just needs more encouragement and more nurturing from the industry.”
Who knows, maybe we'll even start to see more Woodward-style training facilities in the UK. After all, snowboarding is as much about how much fun you have as how good you are. Here’s hoping that the future for the scene is as bright and exciting as we believe it can be.